Leibniz-Zentrum Allgemeine Sprachwissenschaft Leibniz-Gemeinschaft

Oral language and literacy in bilingual school-aged children: Evidence from Greek-German

The number of children who speak different languages at home than the instructional language at school has increased dramatically over the last few decades. Specifically, in the German educational system, there is a constantly increasing migrant population, approximately 2% to 22.3 million in 2021 (Statisches Bundesamt, 2021). At the same time, reading comprehension constitutes a challenge to many children in Germany, and in particular to those who are bilingual. In fact, as the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD; 2023) reported, students with a migration background have lower reading achievement in relation to monolingual German children. Since reading is one of the core aims of primary school education, this poses a threat to their academic success. Furthermore, factors predicting reading comprehension have not yet been systematically studied in both languages of bilinguals. Therefore, it is not clear how reading comprehension is acquired in bilinguals.   

Based on this, the current project investigates both languages of Greek-German bilinguals, a language combination that is yet under-investigated in terms of literacy acquisition. In particular, it conducts a 2-year longitudinal study focused on language and reading development for children aged 6 to 8 years of age. The foci include: 

  • To understand the role of language skills in reading comprehension in both languages of bilinguals. The study draws from a large variety of language skills, such as grammar, vocabulary, phonology and narration.  

  • To understand the role of the heritage language in L2 reading comprehension 

  • To investigate the extent to which background factors, such as exposure, moderate the relationship between oral language and reading comprehension. 

Project publications

Project events